image 1

About the project

The primary role of a ship antifouling coating is to limit the increase in frictional drag as a result of surface deterioration and biofouling accumulation. Frictional drag alone can account for as much as 90% of the total drag on some hull types, even when the hull is relatively smooth and unfouled. Hence, for a given ship design, the coating condition is crucial to the performance of ships. Frictional drag in a ship is directly linked to the interaction between the moving hull and the surrounding seawater. As the ship moves, a significant mass of water, sometimes reaching 1/4 or even 1/3 of the total mass of the ship, is accelerated to a speed close to that of the ship. The consequence of this is that the engine must deliver additional power to keep constant speed and thus greater fuel penalties. Therefore, there is a general consensus of all the ship owners companies that the fouling and macro-algae attachment to the hulls induces much large propulsion costs and are also a cause for a large part of the maintenance costs.
Marine biofouling begins to accumulate on the submerged portion of an oceangoing vessel within minutes of making contact with the water. Over time, this accumulation increases the drag of the vessel, causing the physical resistance of the vessel to increase. As a result of fouling drag on the vessel, higher fuel consumption to maintain a given speed or lower speeds at a maintained power will occur. To date, there exists no coating that can provide low initial friction with water and maintain the vessel free from fouling for up to 90 months of exposure to seawater, especially if the vessel has long idle periods or low activity (frequent stays in port). It would also be desirable that these properties could be combined with ease of application and good mechanical properties.


The FOUL-X-SPEL aims to research and develop an alternative for poisonous antifouling coating consisting in extensive research biochemical and chemical research to find a new paint more efficient for antifouling purposes. The FOUL-X-SPEL project takes into consideration the adhesion of microorganisms and, algae to the coated hull surfaces, which are the precursors to later fixation of macro-organisms, and are known to cause serious hydrodynamic penalties themselves. The basic idea concerns the modification of usual hull applications by providing a new antifouling coating, which can provide biocide activity, in order to avoid leaching and to promote a long-term effect of surface protection. This requires the binding through a molecular bridge and to study the effective concentration of the bound active compounds. The new surface coating technology will by this way minimize the surface roughness and improve ship hydrodynamic performance.                          
The project, following recent advances in knowledge in polymer chemistry, aims to obtain a new low friction antifouling coating which will maintain its biocide activity over the medium to long term.  
The process will be optimised in terms of materials, safety and environment, controlling ecotox properties and accomplishing the IMO and EU Regulations.

The aims of the Innovative technology ship coating systems
The new generation of antifouling paints aims

To Reduce the emissions and optimize energy efficiency of existing ships through improved hull-propulsion interactions by means of low friction antifouling coatings; 

To enhance antifouling physical properties, avoiding the adhesion of fouling to reduce fuel consume of the ships and improving hull-propulsion interaction, which will maintain its biocide activity over the medium to long term;

To assure enough resistance to impact, wear, corrosion and their interaction to increase the lifetime of the paint and controlling deterioration and toxic emissions to improve environmental impact and minimize the footprint of the existing ships;

Provide environmental friendly novel coating materials and surface;

Develop and validate on-field innovative new coating finishing and protection longer cycles in compliance with owner demands and technical, safety and environmental IMO Rules and EU and International Regulations;

Provide more economical alternative ship management: commercial speed not affected by the hull friction, less ships top for hull cleaning, more environmental friendly ship;

Provide coating guidelines to be applied in: shipyard, ship life (inspections), repair and maintenance scheduling

The main impacts of the Innovative ship coating

Propulsion improvement due to average drag reduction;

Validation of low environmental antifouling coating impact and valorization;Energy saving and reduction of fuel costs; 

Improvement of ship management and overall costs; 

Immobilization period reduction in dry docks for hull repaints. Contribution to environmental regulations 

This project aims to demonstrate that is available use the non-dangerous biocides listed by European Union in order obtain a longer cycle of life with a superficial layer containing low concentration of biocide and not subject to leachate migrating for water. The environmental regulations must consider the advantages of this stable antifouling that will perform environmental advantages during the service, repaint and removal of coating waste of hull blasting and cleaning without possibilities of soils and water contamination before the final disposal. The recycling of coating waste will be studied in order to find a better alternative than the disposal in industrial landfills.